Growing at Vend Pace: How putting customers at the heart of everything helps us grow gracefully

Growing quickly has its pitfalls and can often come with a share of clumsiness and skinned knees. At Vend, we’ve learned the best way to avoid growing pains is by keeping our customers at the center of everything. After all, if our customers are successful and happy then we’re doing something right.

Sharad Mohan joined Vend after over 3 years at Hootsuite. The founder of Hoosuite’s customer success team, Sharad was attracted by Vend’s amazing people, energy, and ability to get sh*t done. Since joining the company Sharad has grown Vend’s customer success team into a global force. We chat with Sharad to learn just how he keeps customers at the center of Vend’s model.

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Where do you start when it comes to creating a customer success program?

Probably the biggest challenge of a fast growing, global company is to be able to answer the question “What do all our customers need?” This is the first thing you need to know when you’re trying to tackle customer success. The mistake a lot of companies make is to look at what competitors are doing, or listen to a few of the most vocal customers. But that sort of anecdotal information isn’t really that valuable. Plus it only keeps a few customers at the center of your model – not the majority of them.

So my first task is always to discover what customers are trying to get from the product and people, and develop product and customer support around that. At Vend we do this via Net Promoter Scores (NPS).

 

How does NPS work?

An NPS asks for a ranking from 1-10 based on one simple question “How likely would you be to recommend Vend to a friend or colleague?” and gives customers the opportunity to add more detail if they wish.

We learn two invaluable things from this. We get a reading on overall customer satisfaction, and we can spot any problem trends that need resolving. This can be anything from how we interact on our support desk to feature requests. The trick is in identifying the common problem themes in the NPS feedback (we do this by putting it into a visual format as this can be very compelling) and designing solutions to address those problems. This gives us a framework that allows Vend to take feedback.

It is these problem themes, not the score, that provide the real value. In fact, we don’t really worry about our score all that much. We focus our energy on problem themes and figuring out ways to address them. Problem themes are only bad if you keep seeing the same ones surfacing again and again. With each NPS series we want to see new problem themes – which would indicate we’d effectively addressed the previous NPS feedback.

It definitely works, too. In just 8 months we’ve seen our score jump 35 points. That’s pretty remarkable.

 

How does Vend help customers succeed?

We’ve set up three customer success streams to make sure we can meet the many and varied needs of our customers as they arise. These are enablement (proactive success), support (reactive success) and education.

Enablement
We have specific teams and programs to engage with different types of customers, at different points in their Vend journeys, providing all the setup and training assistance they require. Customers who need dedicated assistance can take advantage of Vend+ or work with one of our expert resellers.

The backbone of enablement is customer happiness. We monitor this program pretty closely and measure customer happiness based on how much of the product they use combined with NPS score. This means we know who needs some extra love, and we can give it to them.

Support
Our support team’s job is to be available 24/7 on any and all of the channels a customer might choose, including social media, email, phone, and chat.

The support desk offers another cool metric for measuring the success of our customer success team. This is the Satisfaction Survey Engagement Rate – e.g. the percentage of customers who actually complete the survey. People tend to only fill this out if they feel pretty strongly about their support experience.

Improving the engagement rate along with the satisfaction score is an awesome indicator of a solid support team. For instance a 96% satisfaction rating is a lot more impressive with our 26% response rate versus the industry standard of 10%.

Education
Vend University is one of the most exciting parts of our customer success strategy. Not only do we want to teach customers how to get the most from Vend, but we want to help our customers to be the best at retail.

We have a team dedicated to creating a platform that provides content via pretty much every channel, including on-demand video content, webinars, hangouts, tutorials, and handbooks.

We take this a step further with new features. When we release a new feature we don’t just tell people about it, we give them a strategy and the training to see instant results! That’s customer success.

About Sharad Mohan

Sharad is the Chief Customer Officer at Vend, and responsible for making sure we're bringing delight to our fantastic retailers. Sharad's goal is to enable our retailers to do awesome business through amazing support, great resources and training, and an experience next-to-none. You can follow Sharad on Twitter, or connect with him on LinkedIn.

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